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An inquiry into the formation of Washington's Farewell address .. online

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Madison's draught and the " Hints, or Heads of Topics," with
the beginning and conclusion I have referred to, did consti-
tute the draught which A\'ashington sent to Hamilton with
the letter of the 15th ^lay. The flxct, without any reason-
able doubt, is so ; and that what purported to be the draught
of '\\'ashington, was before Hamilton and Jay at the time of
that interview, cannot be seriously questioned by anybody.

That is the important fiict, that Washington's own


draught was the subject that was before them, with Hamil-
ton's corrections of that draught ; and that no other draught
was before them. Washington's draught, and Hamilton's
transcript of that draught with corrections, were the two
matters before them, if tliey were two matters ; or the tran-
script of Washington's draught with Hamilton's corrections,
was the one matter before them, if it was one matter. And
nothing else was before them. And this settles entirely the
relevancy of ]Mr. Jay's letter.

Mr. Jay was perfectly ignorant at that time, and probably
to the end of his valuable life, that any original draught of
a Farewell Address by Hamilton was thought of, by either
Washington or Hamilton; and as much so, of course, of
the fact, that a copy of such a draught had been sent by
Hamilton to Washington, hefore the time of that interview.
The fact of such a draught by Hamilton, concerned liimseJf
as well as Washington. It was a matter still pending. It
had no bearing upon the matter which concerned Wash-
ington only, to wit, his own draught, for the improvement
of which Hamilton, under Washington's authority, asked
the conference with Mr. Jay. Hamilton, therefore, appears
not to have confided that independent matter to Mr. Jay.
It is from j\Ir. Jay's ignorance of this, and of some other cir-
cumstances, that his defective view of the question of the
Farewell Address proceeded, as will be further shown here-

Recurring now to the two leading papers, Washington's
preparatory draught and Hamilton's original draught, with-
out at present adverting to Hamilton's amendment and
revision of his own draught, I will so far anticipate the con-
clusion that may be drawn from a fuller view of the whole


matter, as to state my apprclicnsion of the general relation
which thev hear to the finished Farewell Address. An ana-
lysis of Hamilton's ahstract and original draught hereafter
will demonstrate it.

The fundamental or radical thoughts of the Farewell
Address appear in Washington's preparatory draught, and
without refcn^ice to plan or style, and with little obligation
otherwise to Madison's draught, which followed Washing-
ton's outline, they were originally and substantially Wash-
ini^'ton's. The selection of those thoughts was his. The
responsibility for them was his. The individuality, for use
in the Farewell Address, was his. In what was most strictly
personal to him, the language of the preparatory^ draught
was frequently, and as often as it could be, brought into the
body of Hamilton's draught, and from that into the Address.
In other instances, also, the language of Washington was to
some extent incorjiorated with the thoughts. On the other
hand, the expurgation of Washington's draught was Hamil-
ton's. The plan of the Farewell Address was that of Hamil-
ton's original draught. The central and dominant thought
of the political part of his draught, and of that Address, was
selected by him from Washington's thoughts, and made the
governing principle of the whole. The bearing of other
thoughts upon that centre was devised by him, and the
separate suggestions which appeared in various places in
Washington's draught, Hamilton developed and augmented,
and worked into his draught ; and he sustained them, not in
the direct logical form, but with collateral illustrations and
supports of his own, by which he combined and justified the
thoughts of AVashington, and made the whole of this por-
tion of the Address which followed his draught, as much an


OF Washington's draught and Hamilton's draught. 85

argument, as Washington's draught had made it a decla-
ration of his pohtical faitli.

It is unnecessary to speak of Hamilton's intellectual capa-
city for the part of the work that was assigned to him ; but
his special qualification for it was moral, as much as it was
intellectual. It was his full sympathy with Washington in
both his personal and political aspirations. He knew better
than any man what Washington felt and thought, and as
well as any man what W^ashington ought to feel on the
occasion, both as a President and as a man ; and he knew
better than AVashington what Washington ought to say, and
what he ought to suppress, in matters which had person-
ally wronged him. Perhaps any man of sense and discretion
is a better judge in this last particular than the party him-
self; but Hamilton's special fitness as an adviser in such a
matter, sprang from his true conception of Washington's
greatness, from sympathy with his glory, from a perfect
apprehension of the estimate which the world had formed
of him, from accordance with him as to both the men and
the policy that were opposed to him, and as to the proper
principles of administration under the Constitution ; while,
at the same time, Hamilton himself was free from every
particle of rivalry or competition with the great chief of the
country, and supremely elevated above the desire or thought
of vindicating any wrongs of his own, through the resent-
ments, in the same direction, of any person whatever.

Two men were never better fitted for just such a joint
work ; fitted by different, and even by contrasting, qualities,
and by reciprocal trust and respect.

Hamilton habitually approved Washington's great pur-
poses, and generally his suggestions made upon deliberate


(•onsi(l(M-ati(>ii. Washington, on the other hand, approved
wliat Hamilton's ronstructive as well as analytical mind
built u[) or developed from Washington's suggestions, or
rcirnTted hv wise qualifications ; and ceased to approve even
a sucrircstion of his own, after Hamilton had shown that it
was out of place in the position given to it, or out of parallel
or keeping with the ideal wliich Washington's admirers
throughout tlie world liad fonned of him. Hamilton was
slow, therefore, to consent to Washington's abating any por-
tion of his claims through an excessive modesty, or impairing
them by condescending to rebuke the invectives which had
irritated him, as he knew him to be far above their reach on
the great theatre of the world ; though he was ready to be
overruled where Washington was to speak personally ; and
probably felt himself to be overrided, in retaining certain
parts of Mr. Madison's language.

Washington's practical and executive life — that great pre-
paration of his virtues for the destiny that awaited him — took
him away in early youth from long scholastic training in
letters, and made them of secondary pursuit with him after-
wards. He was not addicted to complex or formal compo-
sition, though he wrote well and effectively. The seeds of
all sound political and moral action were in him, and they
grew and expanded with his position, until it became the
highest in the countrv ; and his also was a singularly wise
judgment to apply the work of another in aid of his o^s^ti
knowledge or design ; but suggestiveness and facility were
not the most striking properties of his mind. Hamilton, on
the other hand, strenuously cultivated from his youth, his
remarkable genius for speculative inquiry, for pohtical and
legid argument, and for arrangement and order in tlie mar-


shalling of his thouglits for either persuasion or demonstra-
tion. His was the germinating, arranging, and exhibitive
mind, the mind to make a structure from the separate mate-
rials provided by the mind of Washington ; but no structure
that Hamilton or any one could raise, was beyond the accu-
rate siu'vey and scrutiny of AVashington, or his ability to
appreciate the nature and degree of the connection, depen-
dency, and coherence of the parts. Such was the adaptation
of Washington and Hamilton to the work of the Farewell

Hamilton's original draiujld, as printed in the seventh
volume of his Works, — of which a corrected copy was sent
to Washington on the 30th July, 1796, — is the starting-
point in the collation and comparison of Hamilton's work,
with the Farewell Address. The draught was altogether
Hamilton's preparation, and there can be no doubt of the
genuineness and authenticity of this document. The ori-
ginal, in his handwriting, is deposited in the Department of
State. The copy in his Works has been published under
the authority of Congress. It is printed in such a manner
as, by reference to words and sentences at the foot of the
pages, to indicate what are called in the first note, " the
''final alterations in this draught," which does not mean
the final alterations, from the corrected copy sent to Washing-
ton the 30th July, nor from the revision sent to AVashington
on the 6th September ; but the final alterations in this^ the
original draught, before it was amended and sent to Wash-
ington, on the 30 th Jidy.

The comparison of the Farewell Address must, in the
first instance, be made with this draught. The revision of
the draught, or, as Hamilton expressed it in his letter to


Wasliiiif,'ton of 5tli Septrml)cr, " the draught corrected
" a<:frrcably to your iutimutioiis," was sent to Washington
on tli(> ()th September, having been returned by Washington
to Hamilton for revision, at his request, on the 25th August.
It was not found, Mr. Sparks says, among the papers of
Wasliington. Doubtless Mr. Sparks has never seen it. It
may, or may not, appear hereafter.

The disappearance of this paper is remarkable. It is the
only paper which relates to the formation of the Farewell
Address, that has disappeared from the papers of Wash-
ington on tliis head, from the year 1792. All the other
papers, it Avill be seen, came into the hands of Mr. Sparks,
the editor of Washington's Writings, There were several
of them, without including the letters of Madison or
Hamilton ; — Madison's draught, Washington's copy of that
drauglit. his own paper, called by Mr. Sparks " Hints, or
" Heads of Topics," Washington's completed paper sent to
Hamilton, and Hamilton's coiTection of that paper by incorpo-
ration of amendments. They were all found among the papers
of Washington. This copy of Hamilton's original draught,
his revision, is acknowledged by Washington, commented
upon by him several times by letter, was returned by Wash-
ington to Hamilton, sent back to Washington, after revision,
by Hamilton, according to Washington's urgent request, for
the purpose of being immediately copied and sent to the
press ; and though its safe arrival does not, from any letter
that remains, appear to have been expressly acknowledged
by M asliington, the short clause on Education prepared by
Hamilton at Washington's instance, expressly mentioned by
Hamilton as having been made in the revision, and which
appears in Wasliington's Farewell Address, in the place which

Hamilton's amended and revised draught. 89

Washington pointed out in Hamilton's copy wlierc it might
conveniently come in, — that little clause, if every other proof
had failed, is as full a letter of acknowledgment that the
revision had come back safely to Washington's hands, as the
most formal receipt which Washington could have signed.
All these papers were probably kept together by Wash-
ington iii one place, after the Farewell Address w^as pub-
lished. We know Washington's extraordinary habits of
order and care in the arrangement and preservation of his
papers. His editor has shown it, in the preface to his work.
All the other papers I have described, remained at his death ;
and they passed into the possession of his nephew and
legatee, Bushrod Washington, one of the most pure, single-
minded, conscientious, and virtuous men, whom this or any
other country has produced. All the papers of Washington
were his special bequest to this nephew, the venerated
Judge of the Supreme Court, and of the Circuit Court of
the United States for the District of Pennsylvania. He
died in Philadelphia, on the 26th of November, 1829 ; and
four or five years before that time, he had placed in the
hands of Mr. Sparks the mass of Washington's papers, for
the preparation of an edition of Washington's AVritings.

No person upon earth, who knew Bushrod AVashington,
can possibly believe that such a paper as Hamilton's draught,
or any other important paper in Washington's cabinet at
Momit Yernon, could have been separated or displaced from
the mass by him, or mth his consent, for the purpose of
concealment. It is equally impossible that it could have
been so separated and put aside by Mr. Sparks, or with his
consent. I have the fullest faith, and so must every one
have, who knows the character of Mr. Sparks, that this


paper (lid not come into liis possession. He has stated to
tliat cfirct. in a written list of the papers appertammg to
the Farewell Addn^ss, wliieli was prepared several years
sinee, a copy ot" which 1 have seen.

It would he danp^eroiis, and is quite unnecessary, to
indnlij^e in any speculations concerning the loss or displace-
ment of this paper. I should he willing to suppose it to
have heen altogether an accident ; and so far as imputations
from me arc concerned, it must be considered as so regarded
on my part ; but there is an intimation (as Mr. Jay's reply
states it) in Judge Peters's letter to Mr. Jay of the 14th
^[arch, 1(S11, that there were two copies of the Farewell
Address, in Hamilton's handwriting, of which Judge Peters
liad been recently informed, — one among the papers of
General Hamilton, and another in the possession of a
certain person, whose name is not mentioned. As the only
two papers in Hamilton's handwriting, which could purport
to he copies of the Farewell Address, were the original
draught of Hamilton, and the copy sent to Washington,
namely, the paper now in question, there may doubtless be,
in this intimation, a reference to the missing paper. But it
is useless to attempt to follow it out, with so imperfect a
light, which possibly may also be a deceptive one. One
remark, and one only, wdll suffice, before I proceed to other

The missing paper could not have been displaced or taken
with a view to assist the claims of Hamilton or his family
to the authorship of the F'arewell Address. If there was
an) consciousness in regard to the question of authorship,
l)y tlie person who took possession of it, the paper would
have been produced before this, if it had been of a nature to


defeat those claims; and no friend to Hamilton's claims
would have suppressed it, if it had been found to make
those claims perfectly demonstrative without the trouble of

One consequence of the absence of this revision must be
kept in mind, — and it is quite an important one, unless it
can be supplied to some extent, as it probably can be.
As the original draught of Hamilton was " considerably
" amended," as well as re\ised and corrected by him, and as
Washington, also, altered some of the words of the revision,
we have no absolute assurance that the words of the Fare-
well Address which are not found in the original draught,
were contained in Hamilton's amended copy, or in his
revision of it; nor, on the other hand, that they were
placed in the Farewell Address by Washington himself.
And the like must be said of any part of the original
dratigJit, which is not found in the Farewell Address. We
have no absolute assurance that such part was struck out by
Hamilton, in his amended copy, or in the revision ; for it
may have been struck out by Washington after the revision
came to his hands. Either Flamilton or Washington may
have done it. Which of them did it, will be a question of
probabilities, when we look at the differences, as shown in
the light of Washington's autograph Address. The main
question of authorship, in the literary sense, will not however
be sensibly affected by the absence of Hamilton's revision.

In comparing the original draught of Hamilton with the
Farewell Address, which the reader must to a great degree
do for himself, the characteristics of identity in mechanism
and substance will be found to be very strong in the follow-
ing particidars : 1. The length or extent of each is about the


same, and the niateiial almost wlioUy the same. The extent,
about ninetooii printed pages, largely exceeds any draught
of ^^'asllington that consisted only of the materials noticed
in Mr. Sparks's Appendix, or were sent by Washington to
Ilamiltou witli his letter of 15th May. It exceeds them
more than twofold, which is quite sufficient to account for
AVashiugton's remark in his letter of lOth Augnst: "the
" doul)t that occurs at first view is the length of it for a
" newspaper publication." 2. The number of paragraphs is
about the same. In the Farewell Address they are fifty-
one ; in the original drauyJtt they are fifty. But there have
been a few divisions and consolidations of original paragraphs
of the Farewell Address, as it stands in Washington's Works,
and one paragraph has certainly been added b}' Hamilton in
his revision, and two or three by him, or by Washmgton.
The final result is, that the paragraphs are still about the
same in number. 3. And this is material : the order or col-
location of paragraj^Jis, and the subjects of them, from the
beginning to the end of the two papers, the original draught
and the Farewell Address, is one and the same, making
allowance for the division and consolidation of paragraphs
before named, and the expansion in two instances. There
is no transposition of the order that we have detected, except
in a partial degree, in a single instance, where part of a para-
graph at the end of page 576 and the beginning of page 577 of
the original draught in the seventh volume of Hamilton's
Works, is wrought into the last two clauses of the Farewell
Address. In more than twenty instances the paragraphs in the
Farewell Address begin with the identical words of the corres-
ponding paragraphs in the draught, treating of the same sub-
jects in almost the same language to the close. In at least nine


other instances, a word at the beginning of a paragraph in
the draught is changed in the Farewell Address ; as essen-
tialJij fox siibsfantiaUi/ ; cJierish good faith, for observe good
faith ; towards the execution, for in the execution ; in like
manner, for so liJieivise ; lolnj should we forego, for why forego ;
in reference to the present ivar of Europe, for in relation to the
suhsisfing tear in Europe ; after deliberate consideration, for
after deliberate examination ; to the duration and efficacy of
your Union, for to the efficacy and permanency of your Union ;
I have already observed, for I have already intimated. In all
these instances the corresponding paragraphs proceed with
the same subject, and generally in the same language to the
close. Such differences are a conclusive proof of origin, by
uniform limitation of change, along with uniform continu-
ation of subject, and generally of words, without any change.
This conformity in subject and language may be illustrated
by a paragraph, taken as an instance, from the body of the
Farewell Address, being the sixteenth paragraph of that
Address, and the nineteenth of Hamilton's original draught,
six of Hamilton's previous paragraphs having been consoli-
dated in three in the Address, one ha^dng been divided into
two, and one altogether omitted.



To the duration and efficacy of your To the efficacy and permanency of your
Union, a government extending over the Union, a government for the whole is in-
whole is indispensable. No alliances, how- dispensable. No alliances, however strict
ever strict between the parts, could be between the parts, can be an adequate
an adequate substitute. These could substitute ; they must inevitably experi-
not fail to be liable to the infractions ence the infractions and interruptions
and interruptions which all alliances in which all alliances in all times have ex-


oil times have sufTorcd. Sensible of this perienced. Sensible of this momentous

importniit truth, you have lately eata- truth, you have improved upon your first

bliiiheil a Constitution of general govern- essay by the adoption of a Constitution

ment, bettor calculated than the former of government better calculated than

for on intimate union, and more adequate your former for an intimate union, and

to the duration of your common concerns, for the efficacious management of your

This government, the offspring of your common concerns. This government, the

own choice, uninfluenced and unawed, offspring of our own choice, uninfluenced

completely free in its principles, in the and unawed, adopted upon full investi-

distribution of its powers, uniting energy gation and mature deliberation, com-

with safety, and containing in itself a pletely free in its principles, in the dis-

provision for its own amendment, is well tribution of its powers, uniting security

entitled to your confidence and support, with energy, and containing within itself

Respect for its authority, compliance a provision for its own amendment, has

with its laws, acquiescence in its mea- a just claim to your confidence and your

sures, arc duties dictated by the funda- support. Respect for its authority, com-

mental maxims of true liberty. The pliauce with its laws, acquiescence in its

basis of our political systems is the right measures, are duties enjoined by the fun-

of the people to make and to alter their damental maxims of true liberty. The

constitutions of government. But the basis of uur political system is the right

Constitution for the time, and until of the people to make and to alter their

changed by an explicit and authentic constitutions of government. But the

act of the whole people, is sacredly bind- Constitution which at any time exists,

ing upon all. The very idea of the right till changed by an explicit and authentic

and power of the people to establish go- act of the whole people, is sacredly obli-

vernment, presupposes the duty of every gatory upon all. The very idea of the

individual to obey the established govern- power and the right of the people to esta-

nient. — Ilamiltons Works, vol. vi, p. 582. blish government, presupposes the duty of

every individual to obey the established
government. — Washitigion's Writings,
vol. xii, p. 222.

It is not speaking too strongly to say that the third cha-
racteristic I liave mentioned, is decisive. It is decisive of
the origin of the Farewell Address, whatever may have been
the verbal alterations of Hamilton's original draught, or of
Hamilton's revision of that draught, or by Washington's


autograph copy — even attributing all the changes to Wash-
ington, and none of them to Hamilton's correction and
revision. If a paper of fifty paragraphs is found thus to
conform to a paper that preceded it, and especially to one
that was written to be the exemplar of it, in corresponding
paragraphs, identical subjects and thoughts, and closely in
language, though with an occasional difference in words,
every reasonable person must say that the first paper was
the source of the second.

Mr. Babbidge, in the ninth Bridgewater Treatise, has ex-
pressed mathematically, the proportional value of all human
experience against a miracle, — Mr. Hume's theory, — as being
two hundred thousand millions against one ; and at the same
time has shown by the same method, that the improbabilities
of error in the agreement of six independent witnesses of
good character, unknown to, or without collusion with, each
other, and not deceived respectively more than once in a
hundred times, and testifying to the restoration to life of a
dead man, are fivefold as great, that is to say, a million
millions against one. We have at least the benefit of the
Hamean proportional improbability against the preparation
by one man of such a paper as the Farewell Address, with-

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Online LibraryHorace BinneyAn inquiry into the formation of Washington's Farewell address .. → online text (page 7 of 20)